Jeffrey Van Grack
September 15, 1953 – August 9, 2014
Jeffrey Van Grack, who passed away on August 9th, dedicated his life to his profession, his community, athletics, and above all, his family.
Jeff was a very accomplished lawyer who spent his entire career as a member of the Bar Association of Montgomery County. He began his legal career as law clerk to Judge Richard Latham and spent most of his career with the Bethesda law firm of Lerch, Early & Brewer. His greatest recognition was on a national level, serving as Dean of the Washington Metropolitan Chapter of the Community Associations Institute and President of the College of Community Associations Lawyers.
Jeff gave to his community in countless ways, including serving on boards and being an advocate for the following nonprofits: the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes, B’nai Israel Synagogue, the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Foundation, and the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network. He was an extremely active participant in the Northwest and Bethesda-Chevy Chase (B-CC) High Schools through their academic programs with the inclusion of legal issues and leadership skills in their curriculum.
Jeff was also a proud fan of all Washington area athletic teams – Senators, Nationals, Redskins, Terrapins, Bullets, Wizards, and Capitals. He was at the last Senators home game, went to every Nationals playoff game, went to Redskins playoff games (except for the 1983 Super Bowl, the same day his son Alan was born), and was a proud member of the Maryland Terrapin Club.
However, for the past 15 years his greatest sports passion was for the Northwest Jaguars and the B-CC Barons. Jeff was an incredible volunteer football coach at Northwest and B-CC. He was with Northwest when the team won the 2004 Maryland 3A State Championship and with B-CC for all of their recent playoff seasons. Yet, Jeff’s role as a coach was more than just with Xs and Os. He counseled his players about life, academics, and future careers. In fact, several players became lawyers. As if to emphasize his impact on these high school students, countless current and former Northwest and B-CC players and coaches attended Jeff’s funeral and memorial service.
The greatest role Jeff served was as loving husband, father, and grandfather. His love was best shown when he was in the presence of his grandson, Henry. Jeff was constantly playing with Henry, and with only 3 years together, Jeff taught Henry to throw a mean fastball (those who played softball with and against Jeff in the Montgomery County lawyer leagues know that Jeff’s coaching is legit). Jeff touched the lives of everyone he met through his smile, laugh, and heart, and he will be missed greatly by many.
With much sadness but many good memories, the attorneys and staff of Lerch, Early & Brewer mourn the death of Jeffrey Van Grack, who passed away August 9, 2014 after a long and valiant battle with bladder cancer. “We are deeply saddened, both professionally and personally,” says the firm’s managing partner Arthur F. Lafionatis. “Jeff dove wholeheartedly into everything he did in both his personal and professional lives and had a major impact in the lives of so many that he touched. Jeff had three main passions in his life besides his family: his work, coaching and the community, and he will be missed by all.”
Jeff the Community Associations Leader
Jeff loved being a lawyer. He began practicing law in 1978, and after buying a townhouse, he joined the association’s board of directors. From that experience, he decided that community associations needed good legal representation and representing them was destined to be a growing field. He founded Lerch Early’s Community Association practice two decades ago, building it from a few communities to today’s thriving practice, in which five attorneys and five paralegals help hundreds of community and homeowners associations, condominiums and cooperatives throughout the region.
Jeff was a leader in the community associations field—he was a past president of the Washington Metropolitan Chapter of the Community Associations Institute, and a member of the board of trustees of the national Community Associations Institute. He also served as president of the prestigious College of Community Association Lawyers, an organization of fewer than 150 lawyers nationwide selected as distinguished contributors to community association law. In addition, Jeff was a leader in the Bar Association of Montgomery County, serving on its board of directors in the mid-1980s and again in the late 2000s. He remained active, and each month he could be found rounding up lawyers at the firm to carpool to the bar’s monthly luncheon.
Jeff was listed in the Best Lawyers in America and was named one of Washington’s Top Lawyers for real estate litigation by the Washington Business Journal.
“Jeff was a pioneer in the community associations world, “says Jason E. Fisher, who worked with Jeff for more than 20 years, starting as an intern before attending law school and eventually joining Jeff as co-chair of the Community Associations group. “He was incredibly generous about sharing his knowledge of the industry and the people, and his warm and outgoing nature meant that many of his clients also became his friends. He will be sorely missed by them and by everyone here.”
Jeff the Football (and Life) Coach
Many people in the firm and in the community knew Jeff as “Coach” because of his love of sports that led to many years coaching high school football and his passionate belief that everyone should work hard and be fully committed in all they pursue.
Starting in late summer, Jeff would get to the office at about 5:00 am each morning so he could put in a full day’s work before leaving to coach football, first at Northwest High School and later at his alma mater, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. He started his “second career” as a football volunteer in the late 1990s when he served as a scout for Northwest, watching other teams and giving the coaches insights into their strengths and weaknesses. He eventually began coaching, most recently for BCC’s special teams, but his influence did not stop at the field. Despite his love of the game, he always reminded his players that there was more to life than football. He created an academic achievement scholarship awarded to the football player with the highest GPA each year. Jeff was a mentor, talking about careers and the importance of leadership to his players. He often said that one of his proudest accomplishments was mentoring one who played for Northwest High, Eby Kalantar, who went on to play football at Gettysburg College, and then to get his law degree in 2011 from Jeff’s law school alma mater, the University of Baltimore School of Law. Today, Eby practices real estate law at a firm in Bethesda.
Jeff the Community Leader
Jeff spent most of his life in Montgomery County and gave back to the Washington, DC community in countless ways. He served on the boards of directors for the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Boosters Foundation, the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes and B’nai Israel Synagogue. Most recently, he was selected as a member of the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network Leadership Council; BCAN’s mission is to increase public awareness about bladder cancer, advance bladder cancer research and provide education and support services for the bladder cancer community.
A Life Remembered
Funeral Services will be held on Tuesday, August 12 at 10:30 am at:
Danzansky-Goldberg Memorial Chapels
1170 Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD 20852
Interment will immediately follow at:
Garden of Remembrance Memorial Park
14321 Comus Rd.
Clarksburg, MD 20871
Jeff’s wife Nancy and their family will be holding Shiva at their home immediately following the interment on Tuesday, with Shiva services at 7:30 pm. Shiva will also be held on Wednesday, August 13 from 2:00 to 4:00 pm, and then from 7:00 to 9:00 pm, with Shiva services at 7:30 pm.
The home is located at:
14937 Dufief Drive
N. Potomac, MD 20878
The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network:
We will always remember Jeff for his great zeal and passion. We’ll miss you, Coach.